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Promoting health and equity in cities through sustainable transport

December 5, 2022 | Julie Robert

Update : December 5, 2022

A Canada-wide university collaboration co-directed by INRS receives $3 million.

active transportation sustainable development

This project comes at an important time, with the federal government launching its first National Active Transportation Strategy.

Active transportation and public transit are essential to improving the overall health of a population. Yet in many Canadian cities, car use remains predominant. Unless major changes are made to infrastructure and behaviour, cities will struggle to meet the ambitious sustainable transport goals set in response to urban congestion and the climate crisis. 

A pan-Canadian research team, co-directed by Professor Marie-Soleil Cloutier, Director of the Urbanisation Culture Société Research Centre at INRS, received a $3 million Healthy Cities Implementation Science Team Grant.

Its goal? Improving population health in urban areas. These funds, provided by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) through the Institute of Population and Public Health, will support the CapaCITY/É project. The team will explore how the implementation of sustainable transportation interventions can support health, mobility, and equity outcomes in cities.

Professeure Marie-Soleil Cloutier

“Active transport and public transit are key solutions to ensuring healthy cities. Pedestrian and cyclist travel is currently restricted partly due to concerns about safety and routes’ user-friendliness, as well as elements related to the lack of infrastructure for these modes of transport in our cities.”

Marie-Soleil Cloutier, Lead co-researcher of CapaCITY/É

“Our research will be used to advance the implementation science by studying multiple dimensions of municipal interventions related to sustainable transportation,” adds the health geography and urban studies researcher.

This announcement is part of a total investment of $27 million by the Government of Canada.

Sustainable transport for health and equity in cities  

The CapaCITY/É project, jointly led by Meghan Winters of Simon Fraser University, Daniel Fuller of the University of Saskatchewan, and Marie-Soleil Cloutier at INRS, focuses on two key interventions: All Age and Ability (AAA) bicycling networks, and speed reduction strategies – used as case studies.

This project comes at an important time, with the federal government launching its first National Active Transportation Strategy. Over the next eight years, $400 million in active transportation and nearly $15 billion in public transit funding will be provided.

CapaCITY/É is an initiative involving multiple Canadian universities, with the following co-principal investigators : Anne Harris (Toronto Metropolitan University), Andrew Howard (The Hospital for Sick Children), Yan Kestens (Université de Montréal), Alison Macpherson (York University), Sarah Moore (Dalhousie University), Linda Rothman (Toronto Metropolitan University), Martine Shareck (Université de Sherbrooke), and Jennifer Tomasone (Queen’s University).

Public transportation: Subway, bicycle and bus

“A project of this scope requires a wide range of expertise from across the province and the rest of the country,” says Marie-Soleil Cloutier. Taking into account the many different urban environments across Canada  is essential to the success of this project.”

The project research team will work in partnership with urban planners, community groups and other stakeholders in several Canadian cities (Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Victoria, among others). The project proposes to examine how targeted, city-funded interventions lead to real changes in the urban environment and mobility patterns, as well as improved safety for user.